The LuLu Group is setting up food processing and logistics centre in Jammu and Kashmir, as part of a wider strategy to build a pan-India presence.
“The state has got immense potential and we are one of the leading importers of food and non-food products from India,” said Yussuf Ali M.A., Chairman. “Setting up of a new food processing and logistics center will further boost export of Kashmiri products.”
Incidentally, Lulu was the first retailer to import the fabled Kashmiri apples across its 190 plus hypermarkets in the GCC and Far East countries last year.
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Talks are underway to make more fruits and spices from Kashmir available in UAE’s supermarkets, a senior government official told Gulf News. “We had meetings with Dubai Chamber, LuLu, DMCC, and Choithrams and the response has been terrific,” said Navin Choudhary, Principal Secretary (Agriculture), Government of Jammu & Kashmir.
“It will take time growing our visibility in the market, but I’m 100 per cent sure that this effort of the government will bring definite results.” The official was in Dubai as part of the UAE-India Food Security Summit organized by the Indian Consulate in Dubai in association with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Invest India.
Even though COVID-19 brought India’s economy to a complete halt, the agricultural sector – the country’s biggest source of employment – was surprisingly resistant.
“Agriculture and horticulture were completely unaffected – rather we had a season of bumper crops across the field,” said Choudhary. However, “flower growers suffered because purchase of flowers across the market stopped.”
To participants in India’s massive agricultural sector, a large South Asian expat population and a stable economy make UAE an attractive market. The UAE has “very sound” logistics, said Choudhary. “Your turnover time is less – if your product has landed at the port, within hours it will land in the stores.
“We have a lot of positives – compared to many other countries – from coming to UAE markets.”
During the food security summit, the Sharaf Group said it would raise its investment profile in India in the range of $250 million to $1 billion. The group has already ploughed in excess of $300 million in the country to build logistics infrastructure services.
With India and UAE growing their “political and strategic” relationship, it is only natural that both countries also have better economic leadership with food supply chain becoming a “cornerstone” of that, said Choudhary.